Prager Smaragd Achleiten Riesling 2015
Pair this rich Riesling with fish dishes – tuna, salmon and more strongly flavored freshwater fish. It would be a perfect companion to Whole Roasted Black Bass with Ginger and Scallions.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Franz Prager, co-founder of the Vinea Wachau, had already earned a reputation for his wines when Toni Bodenstein married into the family. The marriage of Franz’s daughter, Ilse, to Dr. Toni Bodenstein in the 1990s was the catalyst for a sweeping renaissance at the winery. Bodenstein, a biologist, geologist, and historian, spent years studying the geology of the region and focused much of his attention on preserving genetic diversity. His “Arche Noah” project, a planting of old Grüner Veltliner and Riesling clones, resulted from his research. Bodenstein’s scholarly approach, passion for biodiversity, and brilliant winemaking has elevated Prager to the highest echelon of Austrian wine producers. The Prager estate is made up of 17.5 hectares planted to 60% Riesling and 40% to Grüner Veltliner. Located on steep terraces, the vineyards are partly in Weißenkirchen (Hinter der Burg, Hinter Seiber, Steinriegl, Zwerithaler, Klaus, and Achleiten), partly in Dürnstein (Kaiserberg, Hollerin, and Liebenberg), and are planted at extremely high densities of up to 15,000 plants per hectare. Bodenstein makes four different wines from the famed Achleiten vineyard including Wachstum Bodenstein Grüner Veltliner (from 110 clones), and Stockkultur Grüner Veltliner produced from a patch of very old post-trained vines at the top of Achleiten. Wachstum Bodenstein Riesling (from 25 clones) comes from the upper terraces of Hinter Seiber. Prager belongs to the prestigious Vinea Wachau and vinifies under the strict parameters of their codex. Harvest is typically from October to November. Grapes are hand-harvested, sorted to eliminate botrytis, and sent directly to press where they’re fermented by what Bodenstein describes as “controlled spontaneous fermentation.” Toni Bodenstein prevents malolactic fermentation from occurring. Since 1996, Prager wines have been vinified entirely in stainless-steel tanks. This minimalist approach reveals wines of precision and elegance, moderate levels of alcohol, and clear expression of origin. “Vom Stein zum Wein” (from rocks to wine) is Toni Bodenstein’s motto and his ideology is reflected by his non-interventionist methods in the cellar.
Appreciated for superior wines made from indigenous varieties, Austria should be on the radar of any curious wine drinker. A rather cool and dry wine growing region, this country produces wine that is quintessentially European in style: food-friendly with racy acidity, moderate alcohol and fresh fruit flavors.
Austria’s viticultural history is rich and vast, dating back to Celtic tribes with first written record of winemaking starting with the Romans. But the 20th century brought Austria a series of winemaking obstacles, namely the plunder of both world wars, as well as its own self-imposed quality breach. In the mid 1980s, after a handful of shameless vintners were found to have added diethylene glycol (a toxic substance) to their sweet wines to imitate the unctuous qualities imparted by botrytis, Austria’s credibility as a wine-producing country was compromised. While no one was harmed, the incident forced the country to rebound and recover stronger than ever. By the 1990s, Austria was back on the playing field with exports and today is prized globally for its quality standards and dedication to purity and excellence.
Grüner Veltliner, known for its racy acidity and herbal, peppery aromatics, is Austria's most important white variety, comprising nearly a third of Austrian plantings. Riesling in Austria is high in quality but not quantity, planted on less than 5% of the country’s vineyard land. Austrian Rieslings are almost always dry and are full of bright citrus flavors and good acidity. Red varietal wines include the tart and peppery Zweigelt, spicy and dense Blaufränkisch and juicy Saint Laurent. These red varieties are also sometimes blended.